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Tyler re-elected Victoria County DA

By Gheni_Platenburg
Nov. 2, 2010 at 6:02 a.m.
Updated Nov. 4, 2010 at 6:04 a.m.

Incumbent District Attorney Steve Tyler waves to cars with his daughter, Hannah, 6, outside  Holy Family Catholic Church, the voting location for Precinct 33. Tyler was there Tuesday for about 11 hours campaigning and either district attorney candidate Deborah Branch or one of her supporters stood on the other corner of the church's driveway.

Victoria County District Attorney Steve Tyler won re-election Tuesday in a race marked by negative campaigning by both candidates.

Tyler, 50, received 10,321 votes, or 53 percent to win, while Democratic challenger Deborah Branch, 59, received 9,040 votes, or 47 percent.

"I think it was a hard-fought race. In the end, I got the endorsements that mattered most, the endorsements of the people here in Victoria," said Tyler, who gave special thanks to both his wife, Heather, and his daughter, Hannah, for their help with the campaign. "As much as this is a victory for me, it is a victory for all those supporters who worked on my campaign."

Branch referred to the endorsement she received from the Victoria Police Officers Association.

"I think it's phenomenal that this many people voted for me, which signals a respect for law enforcement that they felt was missing," said Branch, who said she would return to her job as the Assistant District Attorney for the 156th Judicial District on Thursday. "I can only hope that the incumbent will take that into consideration when making decisions within his office."

Voters met Tyler's re-election with mixed reactions.

"The voters of Victoria spoke out and voted for the person they thought was best suited to represent Victoria as district attorney," said 42-year-old Victoria resident Roland Ramirez.

However, 54-year-old Victoria resident Louis Rodriguez was vocal about his displeasure with the race's outcome.

"I think we missed an opportunity to change the dynamics relative to the district attorney's office and the interaction between the agencies," said Rodriguez. Branch "ran a good race."

Rodriguez's reaction was largely in response to Tyler's public clashes with the Victoria Police Department and several city officials during his first term.

In 2007, police began an independent investigation into why former Victoria County Sheriff Michael Ratcliff, Tyler's chief of staff at the time, was not charged for sexually assaulting a teenage boy years before.

In response, Tyler convened a grand jury, which indicted Mayor Will Armstrong, Police Chief Bruce Ure, police Lt. Ralph Buentello and former city attorney David Smith.

A judge threw out the indictments against the mayor. The perjury charge against Buentello and Smith remain. A special prosecutor is deciding whether those cases will go forward.

Tyler said he anticipated a packed schedule during the next 12 months, including a grand jury meeting next week and trials scheduled in December and early 2011.

*Corrected Nov. 4, 2010.

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